Monty Python says Altcoins 'Not Dead Yet'

What are the best altcoins for 2016?

Please note: this article is starting to get a little bit old, please take a look at this year’s post for the best altcoin investments for 2017

The altcoin market is turbulent, exciting and dangerous. Enthusiasts get to play with bleeding-edge financial technology, enjoying a constant flow of new features and tools. For those looking to make some money, there are amazing profits to be had just by owning a successful coin, as prices regularly see surges of 100% or more in a single day. But there is also a huge risk, for both of these groups, that your coins will lose most of their value, even to the extent of becoming virtually worthless overnight.

This last year was one of mixed blessings for altcoin owners. There were some big and successful launches and some cool new technologies released, but at the same time many established coins struggled to maintain their value.

Next year looks set to be just as exciting, and just as volatile. In this list I have tried to pick out some of the best altcoins to keep an eye on for the next year. In making my choices I have tried to keep a balance between three connected but separate factors: price, technology, and adoption (by either consumers or businesses). The coins that I have chosen as the best altcoins for 2016 are therefore the ones which look set to bring some interesting and exciting new developments to please the geek in you, to develop interesting business partnerships or reach out to new markets and build their user-base, but also ones which I think have a great chance of increasing in value from their current price.

Since I don’t have a working crystal ball to see into the future, it is almost certain that at least some of these will prove to be bad choices. Perhaps some of these coins will flounder, or perhaps others that have flown under my radar (or haven’t even been announced yet) will steal the show. You shouldn’t put too much faith in my picks, but should do your own research and make your own choices as to the best altcoins for you to buy instead. In the interests of transparency I should also add the following disclaimer: I own 4 out of the 6 coins on this list: NEU, RBR, ETH, MAID (along with quite a few others as well).

I’m sure that most readers will have their own ideas and will probably disagree with my choices – so please do feel free to leave a comment to share your top picks for the best altcoins in 2016 and why you think they are so awesome!

Neucoin (NEU)

It seems likely to me that Neucoin will either crash through the floor or soar to the moon over the course of the next year. This ambitious but controversial coin is trying to bring cryptocurrency to the masses of regular consumers who have so far resisted the charms of Bitcoin, through the use of a ‘freemium’ distribution model, a focus on micropayments, and parternships with content producers and platforms.

The large pre-mine slated to be used to provide new users with their first coins for free, as well as to facilitate new commercial partnerships, along with the high PoS rate have caused concerns over the level of decentralization, whilst the resignation of high profile advisers, complaints over poor communication between developers and community, and controversy over the business history of some team members have all contributed to the relatively low levels of support this coin has received from current cryptocurrency users. This has lead to a muted market and a fall in price to around half the pre-sale price in BTC, or around 90% of the pre-sale price in USD.

But existing cryptocurrency users were never the main market for this coins. As the team prepare to role out integration into Jango.com and to release the first game to integrate Neu before the end of the year, we are close to finding out how far this coin will be able to get towards its projection of 1 million users within the first year. If Neucoin has any significant success in this then the current price could end up looking very cheap. If they don’t, then the high inflation rate and flagging interest could see the price per coin crashing dramatically. I don’t know which of these two outcomes will happen, but I think at the very least this will be an interesting coin to watch.

RibbitRewards (RBR)

RibbitRewards is an altcoin which isn’t designed to be a regular currency, but is instead intended to be used by businesses for loyalty rewards. Originally it seemed to focus on the internet retail sector, with prominent plans to create their own multi-currency shopping site at Marketplace.life. A general lack of interest and delays in getting this shopping site seem to have been the main reasons behind a huge drop in value by over 90% during a crash in 2015, and the price has only recovered very weakly from its lows.

In recent weeks, however, a series of blog posts from RibbitRewards team members (e.g. here, here and here) have provided teasers for what seems to be a major pivot. I can’t really do it justice in this short description, but basically they are building much more back-end technology to drive a wide range of different loyalty and rewards programs with smart contracts and branded rewards collateralized by RBR in addition to the ‘coalition rewards’ system which directly utilizes the tokens themselves.

This is a huge market, worth many tens of billions, and there seem to be some great advantages that blockchain technology can offer. Arguably this also offers a much easier path to large-scale adoption than most altcoins, as you are not asking people to switch currencies but just to use a different app with enhanced features for storing their rewards points.

It will be interesting to see how this tech develops and how it is used by different businesses, if it is used at all, and in terms of price: even a handful of small businesses using this technology would have to drive up the price from its current levels. With the potential to engage larger businesses, and marketplace.life still in the works for some point in the future, there seems to me to be an amazing potential for profit in this coin.

Ethereum (Eth)

With a high profile and successful crowdfunding campaign, a post-launch price surge going way past pre-sale levels, and an impressive working relationship with Microsoft who are building tools for developers looking to deploy Ethereum applications, this coin drove some of the biggest altcoin news stories of 2015. It has also built up an impressive market capitalization well in to the tens of millions. But that doesn’t mean that Ethereum won’t be the coin of the year for 2016 too.

Putting aside the price for a moment, 2016 is shaping up to be a fascinating year for those of us who are looking forward to seeing exactly what smart contract and the blockchain technology is capable of doing, and what people will build on top of it. The first apps should start to roll out over the next year, and although some of the most promising use cases will take time to develop and mature, we should at least begin to see a fleshing out of the exciting but somewhat skeletal vision for how smart contracts can be used within various different industries and different areas of our lives.

Of course if these apps also start to draw in users, then 2016 could also see Ethereum challenging Ripple for the number two spot in market capitalization.

Safecoin (Currently maidsafecoin prior to launch)

The Safe project has been under development since before Satoshi Nakamoto created Bitcoin. The launch, which was expected to happen in 2015, has been somewhat delayed and is highly anticipated by many.

With grand ambitions to decentralize the internet, a sizable number of engaged developers all around the world, several interesting looking apps in the works, and a real commodity (cloud storage space) backing the coin, the current market capitalization belies the huge potential of this coin. The Safe network could eat the deep web, Apple iCloud, and even the WordPress cms that this blog is built on as a tasty starter before moving on to bigger things.

A successful launch in 2016 could be both very exciting for geeks, and very profitable for coin holders.

Augur Rep Tokens

Augur is a decentralized prediction market and the first high profile app to be built on top of the Ethereum blockchain. With a launch slated for the end of December, the next year will begin to reveal whether Augur will revolutionize the way that we forecast the probability of future events, or just provide an alternative form of gambling for a small group of altcoin enthusiasts.

Syscoin (SYS)

Like RibbitRewards, this is another coin which has seen its price plummet and currently has a relatively low value, but which still continued to see continued development from a committed team and has some interesting future plans. Syscoin already has a working beta, released recently, for its decentralized blockchain-based marketplace, the primary feature of this coin. The ‘Shade’ marketplace is arguably the most advanced of its kind, with some great features ready for early adopters to try out, from price-pegging to a wide range of different currencies, to in-built reseller support.

With the most important features already completed and undergoing public testing, it seems likely that during the course of the next year this coin will shift to the next phase, chasing adoption rather than working behind the scenes to develop the technology. Although the chances of widespread adoption seem slim it certainly could carve itself a niche place, and for traders the current price leaves space for plenty of upside potential.